BGT Judge David Walliams Faces Backlash for Promoting Gambling Website

Britain’s Got Talent judge David Walliams has become a subject of heavy criticism from fans of the popular talent show and responsible gambling organizations for participating in the latest advertising campaign for an online casinoThe Daily Star reports.

Mr. Walliams, who is also known to be a children’s books author, is the voice behind the new radio advertisements for the BGTGames online gambling website. Launched several year ago, the BGT-themed website features online slots and other casino games that can be played for real money.

In the new radio ads promoting the online casino, Mr. Walliams encourages potential players to pay a visit and play the games available as “everyone’s favorite talent show has been given a star-studded slingo twist.”

However, there have been fans of the show to have criticized the new ads and the BGT judge’s participation in those, arguing that his high profile among children made his presence in a gambling-oriented advertising campaign inappropriate.

As mentioned above, Mr. Walliams is a prolific children’s books author and has produced around 15 novels and picture books for his youngest readers.

Enraged fans took to social media to slam the TV judge. It seems that neither Mr. Walliams, nor his representatives have responded to the growing criticism toward his new project as of yet.

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Experts’ Opinion

Officials at GambleAware, a leading charity working on the minimization of gambling-related harm, agreed that Mr. Walliams’ participation in the gambling ads could have negative effects on his younger fans and readers.

Marc Etches, CEO of the organization, has told media that they are concerned “about the normalization of gambling” among the youngest members of population, particularly when gambling activities are promoted by family-oriented entertainment programs. Mr. Etches further pointed out that the society, including those profiting from entertainment programs, is responsible for protecting children and vulnerable people from gambling-related harm.

A 2017 study by the UK Gambling Commission and research firm Ipsos Mori found that around 370,000 children aged between 11-16 from England, Scotland, and Wales were gambling on a weekly basis. Of them, around 25,000 were problem gamblers and 1.3% were at risk of developing a gambling-related problem.

Some of the children were spending their own money to gamble online, while most of them were using their parent’s online gambling accounts. Of the latter group, 88% were gambling online with their parent’s knowledge, while 22% were doing so without permission.

Last fall, the UK Gambling Commission, the Committee of Advertising Practice, the Advertising Standards Authority, and the Remote Gambling Association sent a joint letter to UK-facing online gambling companies, urging those to immediately ditch any ads that were likely to appeal to children. The letter was distributed following an investigation by The Times that discovered that a number of licensed gambling companies were using children-oriented content to promote their products, including favorite characters such as Jack and the Beanstalk and Peter Pan.

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